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Archive for April 23rd, 2010

Gov. Jan Brewer Signs Controversial Arizona Immigration Bill: Decision Not ‘Made Lightly’

PAUL DAVENPORT and JONATHAN J. COOPER | 04/23/10 07:08 PM | AP

PHOENIX — Gov. Jan Brewer ignored criticism from President Barack Obama on Friday and signed into law a bill supporters said would take handcuffs off police in dealing with illegal immigration in Arizona, the nation’s gateway for human and drug smuggling.

With hundreds of protesters outside the state Capitol shouting that the bill would lead to civil rights abuses, Brewer said critics were “overreacting” and that she wouldn’t tolerate racial profiling.

“We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act,” Brewer said after signing the law. “But decades of inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation.”

Earlier Friday, Obama called the Arizona bill “misguided” and instructed the Justice Department to examine it to see if it’s legal. He also said the federal government must enact immigration reform at the national level – or leave the door open to “irresponsibility by others.”

“That includes, for example, the recent efforts in Arizona, which threaten to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and their communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe,” Obama said.

The legislation, sent to the Republican governor by the GOP-led Legislature, makes it a crime under state law to be in the country illegally. It also requires local police officers to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are illegal immigrants, allows lawsuits against government agencies that hinder enforcement of immigration laws, and make it illegal to hire illegal immigrants for day labor or knowingly transport them.

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MITCH RYDER- Jenny Take A Ride-  (Live 1979)

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Moyers: Six Banks Control 60% of Gross National Product — Is the U.S. at the Mercy of an Unstoppable Oligarchy?

Moyers and economists James Kwak and Simon Johnson wonder whether the financial powers are more profitable, and more resistant to regulation than ever.
April 23, 2010 |

The following is a transcript taken from Bill Moyers’ recent interview with Simon Johnson and James Kwak on Bill Moyers Journal.

So even if the Tea Party folks saw the light, what can ordinary Americans do?

That’s the question I want to put to my guests, Simon Johnson and James Kwak. They have written this new book, 13 Bankers: The Wall St. Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown. It’s a must read – already a best seller — and it couldn’t have come at a better time. This book could change the debate over financial reform by tipping it in favor of the public.

Simon Johnson is a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund. He now teaches at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and is a Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

James Kwak is studying law at Yale Law School – a career he decided to pursue after working as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company and co-founding the successful software company, Guidewire. Together James Kwak and Simon Johnson run the indispensable economic website BaselineScenario.com

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America must face up to the dangers of derivatives

George Soros | Financial Times | April 22, 2010

The US Security and Exchange Commission’s civil suit against Goldman Sachs will be vigorously contested by the defendant. It is interesting to speculate which side will win; but we will not know the result for months. Irrespective of the eventual outcome, however, the case has far-reaching implications for the financial reform legislation Congress is considering.

Whether or not Goldman is guilty, the transaction in question clearly had no social benefit. It involved a complex synthetic security derived from existing mortgage-backed securities by cloning them into imaginary units that mimicked the originals. This synthetic collateralised debt obligation did not finance the ownership of any additional homes or allocate capital more efficiently; it merely swelled the volume of mortgage-backed securities that lost value when the housing bubble burst. The primary purpose of the transaction was to generate fees and commissions.

This is a clear demonstration of how derivatives and synthetic securities have been used to create imaginary value out of thin air. More triple A CDOs were created than there were underlying triple A assets. This was done on a large scale in spite of the fact that all of the parties involved were sophisticated investors. The process went on for years and culminated in a crash that caused wealth destruction amounting to trillions of dollars. It cannot be allowed to continue. The use of derivatives and other synthetic instruments must be regulated even if all the parties are sophisticated investors. Ordinary securities must be registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission before they can be traded. Synthetic securities ought to be similarly registered, although the task could be assigned to a different authority, such as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

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18 veterans kill themselves every day: report

Raw Story- By Sahil Kapur
Friday, April 23rd, 2010 — 10:41 am

The suicide rate among war veterans is extraordinary, new data reveals.

Thirty try to commit suicide each day, on average, reports the Army Times. Seven percent succeed, while 11 percent are likely to make another attempt in the next nine months.

That adds up to 18 retired soldiers who successfully kill themselves daily — 6,570 annually — roughly five a day by service members receiving medical care from Veterans Affairs, rated one of the best health programs in the country.

The Times noted that “In general, VA officials said, women attempt suicide more often, but men are more likely to succeed in the attempt.”

The report cites access to health care and age — younger veterans are less likely to try — as two major factors in the suicide rate, and notes that the VA is seeking to strengthen its suicide prevention programs.

According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, “Roughly 56 percent of all homeless veterans are African American or Hispanic, despite only accounting for 12.8 percent and 15.4 percent of the U.S. population respectively.”

The struggle among veterans to return to everyday life has been documented over the years.

The Associated Press reported in November 2007 that one in four homeless people across the nation is likely to be a veteran, even though veterans constitute a mere 11 percent of overall adults in the United States.

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